ExtraBITS for 5 August 2013
Android’s critics often talk about how fragmented its ecosystem is, but the developers of the OpenSignal app have finally given the fragmentation life with a variety of visualizations. In Apple news, the Obama administration has saved older iOS devices from a Samsung-initiated import ban, and Apple is giving away free content in its Apple Store app. We also bring you the story of the classic educational game The Oregon Trail, Josh Centers appeared on MacVoices to tell the story of how he joined TidBITS, your Xerox WorkCentre copier could be mixing up its numbers, and Amazon has found a clever workaround for Apple’s in-app purchasing restrictions.
Android Device Fragmentation Visualized — The developers of the OpenSignal app have compiled information from their Android users about just how fragmented the Android ecosystem is. Over the past year, they counted 11,868 unique Android device combinations — a nearly 200 percent increase over the previous year. Samsung controls almost 50 percent of the market, with numerous other manufacturers making up the rest, and OpenSignal counted 7 different versions of Android in use by its users. By comparison, Apple has released only 16 iOS devices (not counting the second- and third-generation Apple TV), and 95
percent of iOS users are running iOS 6, with most of the rest on iOS 5.
Obama Administration Vetoes Import Ban on Older Apple Devices — AllThingsD reports that the Obama administration has vetoed a proposed import ban on Apple devices, including the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPad 2. The International Trade Commission issued the ban in June 2013, after finding that Apple had infringed on a Samsung patent. This is the first time that the White House has vetoed such a ban since the Reagan administration in 1987.
Apple Store iOS App Now Offering Free Content — To entice customers to download and use its free Apple Store app for iOS, Apple is now offering free content within the app. The first freebie is the game Color Zen — normally $0.99 — and future offers will reportedly include apps, iBooks, and iTunes music.
The Story of The Oregon Trail — If you (or your kids) grew up playing The Oregon Trail, a game that pitted a band of settlers against the dangers of nature as they journeyed from Missouri to Oregon, Mental Floss has the fascinating story of the game, which was conceived as a way to teach history. Though it was popularized on the Apple ][, the original game was actually played on a teletype, where students would have to type “bang” quickly and accurately to hunt game.
Josh Centers Interviewed about Joining TidBITS on MacVoices — Our Managing Editor, Josh Centers, joined MacVoices host Chuck Joiner to discuss his work at TidBITS. Josh talks about his break into tech writing, what he and Adam argue about, scientifically testing trash bags, and how to set up a home office.
Researcher Finds Some Copiers Can Alter Scanned Numbers — According to a report from German computer scientist D. Kriesel, some Xerox WorkCentre copiers and scanners may alter numbers that appear in scanned documents. Having analyzed the output of two such devices, the Xerox WorkCentre 7535 and 7556, Kriesel found that “patches of the pixel data are randomly replaced in a very subtle and dangerous way”: in particular, some numbers appearing in a document may be replaced by other numbers when it is scanned. These substitutions can be particularly
troublesome for documents such as invoices, construction plans, and medical information. Kriesel suspects that the problem may be related to the JBIG2 compression algorithm employed during scanning, which can substitute one scanned region for other scanned regions that are visually similar. So far, no fix has been reported.
New Kindle iOS App Works Around App Store Restrictions — Although Apple stopped Amazon from including direct purchasing links inside the Kindle app for iOS, Amazon has now come up with a clever workaround for avoiding Apple’s 30 percent fee: free book samples within the app. Kindle users can now search for and preview books on an iOS device, and the Kindle app offers the option to send a purchase link via email at the end. Also new to the app is the capability to use custom dictionaries, and an accessibility quick reference for vision-impaired users.